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"Appalling suffering for people on the brink"

Fintan O’Toole, writing in the Irish Times, has said that “we are currently taking a scythe to the aid budget for the poorest counties.”

He was referring to the €222 million cut from Ireland’s aid budget in the last 10 months. He goes on to describe the impact of these cuts on Concern’s work:

“Concern’s funding for long-term programmes has been cut from €29 million to €21 million and for emergency aid from €6.6 million to around €3 million. On the ground, this translates into appalling suffering for people on the brink. We’re talking about people who are victims of the global economic crisis just as we are; who have no dole or welfare systems to fall back on; and who are having to pay twice as much for the staple foods on which they survive.

“Even with pay cuts, redundancies and the closure of offices, Concern is having to slash programmes. One in Afghanistan which provides work and education to 25,000 women is being drastically scaled back. Two thousand households in Angola will be cut off from training in food production. A project to ensure adequate nutrition for 35,000 slum children and 25,000 pregnant women in Bangladesh is not going ahead. An education and hygiene programme for 6,000 children in Haiti is being closed. And so on.

“Many readers will shrug and say ‘Tough. We’re all suffering.’ But you simply can’t compare the impact of these cuts with the hardship and anxiety we’re experiencing at home. The direct cruelty that’s involved in telling people who have so little that we’re not keeping our promises to them is of a very different order to an income levy or a pay cut. It involves a much more fundamental breach of our basic sense of morality, decency and justice.”

Read the rest of Fintan's article here.

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